A week in Ft Lauderdale, swimming and faffing about in the evening, left me rather relaxed. Not that I didn’t spent time listening to lots of review music while on holiday.
Then again it's always fun for me to review stuff that other people would not necessarily think go together. As I was on holiday, the fare is a bit less dark and broody this week.
The Kentucky Headhunters: Live/Agora
Yes, it's those rock-country guys giving it all at a gig to support their platinum selling debut Pickin' on Nashville. It's an aw shucks kind of release that is great fun to listen to and never gets old. They chuck in a few covers too, one of which is a great version of “Spirit in the Sky” that bizarrely brings to mind the Doctor & the Medics version (Norman Greenbaum having done the original). Their version of Bad Company’s “Wishing Well” is damn good as well. Both these tracks ended up on their second album. Course I am partial to their cover of Robert Johnson’s “Crossroad”, that blues classic.
The CD was recorded in 1990 and you can tell that everyone is having a blast. Along with the covers you get nine of the ten tracks of their debut. You can tell why they won so many awards in their heyday and achieved Platinum status. The fact that the band, minus only one member, still trawls the boards today is testament to what a great band they are. If you wanna hear a band that mixes country, blues, bluegrass, and rock terribly well, and has a good time doing it, then this is a release for you.
Diablo Swing Orchestra: Sing-Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious
If you ever wonder what the Brian Setzer orchestra would sound like if they grew out of Nightwish rather than Stray Cats, this would be your band. They play eminently danceable upbeat, infectious, stick-in-your-head big band metal or rather metal-big band. If you ever had a metal “hop” then this would be the band you would want play. It's infectious, catchy and oh so much fun, but heavy at the same time.
Just to make it really fun, the band have a back story that involves the “original” version of them from the early 16th century. Even though we think of Sweden as very tolerant these days, it wasn’t back then. The original Orchestra was persecuted and was forced to flee, fearing for their lives. You see they were too popular and the authorities thought they were diabolists. Supposedly two of that band’s descendants met in 2003 and decided to start up the band again. (Or are they re-incarnated?)
Anyway, if you are looking for some fun metal that your non-metalhead friends won’t hate, then try this one on for size. I liked it from the first track and haven’t changed my mind. Swedish big band metal, another sub-genre for us to fret about? Who knows? I just know I love it.
Nick Oliveri: Death Acoustic
The prospect of Oliveri of Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age releasing an acoustic album rather intrigued me. I was rather keen to give it a listen when I got the PR about it. Alas, I have to admit to be rather disappointed and quite frankly wondering if this is a massive piss-take. To be honest, I find this release to be pretty freaking dire.
The Spanish guitar in the first track “Start a Fight” is quite nice. The rest of this CD comes across like someone really hammered trying to do acoustic covers of metal songs. It just does not work on so many levels. I can’t quite understand why he released it, unless Oliveri completists begged him for this sort of thing.
If this was anyone else but Oliveri, it would be dismissed as yet another bedroom rock wannabe screaming his guts out over acoustic guitar. However, it's not, this guy has fronted some of best stoner metal bands ever. He is a creative talent of that there is no doubt. This album is just bloody awful to these ears, I guess I am just not stoned or drunk enough to get it. I think it's for fans only.
Jason Aldean: Wide Open
I got to tell you, gain, this guy rocks harder than some so called rock bands. I have written about him before, having reviewed the live DVD and mentioned the stonker of a single from this release "She’s Country.” On that song alone this CD would probably sell well and cross-over to non-strict country fans. He has got some twangy but amusing songs like “Big Green Tractor” (no double-entendres in this song…none whatsoever…) which is the current song doing the rounds.
Ignore your pre-conceived notions about “country” and give this guy a try. Rock-tinged country was never so much fun. If you like your country rock with attitude then give this guy a try. You don’t always have to have heavy as hell tunes cranking out of your stereo. There is some quite endearing about this guy. He seems to successful straddle old country and new country with a tinge of heavy rock. In the 80s he would have been touring with Tesla (“She’s Country” has a “Modern Day Cowboy” feel about it), these days he is touring with country stars. There were other bands of the day with a similar sound and attitude. It’s the same type of music, it's just what we call it that has changed these days.
On that note, I shall end it. Next week I shall head back into the heavy pile and review something for the coming darker days of autumn. Nothing in that lot that will see me dancing like a fool in my office only to be caught by my wife.
Check out live music and stay safe.